'Nick is an inspirational figure and a significant spectre. It replenishes my sense of London to know he is out there, somewhere on the western fringes, walking, prospecting, making his reports. He is the prophet of deep-topography, a post-academic discipline, learned on the hoof. You may not be aware of him, but the culture will shrivel when he is not around.'
'He sees magic in everything. He's like a mystic or an alchemist, hoovering up the magic of stone and brick and concrete. He's also got an incredible language at his disposal, remarkable ideas and a deep sense of lucid confusion.'
'In an era when the search for authenticity has become de trop, Nick Papadimitriou is a startling personification: a superb nature writer, a poet, the originator and preeminent practitioner of the discipline he has dubbed 'deep topography'. From the council flat in Child's Hill, North London, where he has lived for over a quarter century, he sets out on journeys through the urban space that have the velocity and the daring exploratory feel of interstellar voyaging. I urge you to read the results: they are haunting, strange, lyrical, poignant - a testimony to a life that is triumphantly less ordinary.'
'The most vital document about London in years...brilliantly imagined...it's compelling singularity and off-message cultural engagement are things we should be profoundly thankful for.'
'Nick Papadimitriou veers closer to the topographical delirium of Iain Sinclair or JG Ballard in Scarp: a ramble through his home suburbs of north London that spreads a visionary gleam over the mysterious backwaters of the Northern Line'.
'What a strange and wonderful work it is... A series of walks across Scarp, loosely stretching from Harefield in the south-west to Hertford in the north-east, forms the main thread of the book. Nick is the perpetual outsider. He's the scruffy-looking drifter staring over your garden fence, or sleeping rough on a golf course. He's the arsonist who twice set fire to his school, and did time for burning down his neighbour's house. Yet he writes like an angel, avoiding the abstruse prose often found in "psychogeographic" writing.'
'Its full of poetry - something to keep on the night-stand and dip in and out of when the mood takes you. There's a breathtaking amount of colour here, with the author adopting a point of view that makes what are in reality rather mundane suburbs seem like places of mystery and magic.'
If Will Self is partly responsible for the current popularity of psychogeographic writing, then 'deep topographer' Nick Papadimitriou deserves credit for influencing Self's thinking . . . SCARP is intense and deeply personal . . . Ultimately this isn't a book about the Scarp but about fringes - of society, cities, nature, perhaps even sanity. Self's droll psychogeographic adventures are more fun but they lack the sheer Joycean scope of Papadimitriou's ramblings: this is the hard stuff.
His great achievement is demonstrating how a long walk can be a meditative healing process where one can forget what is mundane, and reconnect not only with one's inner self, but also with something deeper and even more tangible.
Papadimitriou is a wildly exotic gatecrasher . . . an heroically odd book . . . rich in memorable phrases.
A terrific read, beautifully written.
SCARP is a scuffed jewel of a book.
The urban flaneur's alternative exploration of north London, combining social history and memoir.